Several people recommended that we go to Troodos, which is up in a mountain range north of Limassol. We felt the B8 road out of Limassol begin to climb right from the start. The signs weren’t too bad – something we couldn’t say about most places in Cyprus. We continued to follow the signs to Troodos, stopping where there was a place to stop to admire the views.
After about an hour we reached the centre of Troodos. At least that’s what the signs implied. Aside from the trees there wasn’t a lot around us.
A few touristy shops, a restaurant and a hotel and a museum disguised as a visitor centre.
All looked to be no more than a few months old. The restaurant looked more touristy than tasty, so we popped into the hotel to ask exactly where we could find the village of Troodos. The person at the desk insisted that this is downtown Troodos. “Troodos is a forest, not really a place,” she explained. “If you would like to go to a village, try Platres, about 10 kilometers in the direction of Limassol.”
Platres was just the kind of place that we expected to see in the mountains. A very picturesque village, with lots of villagey things – small cafes, hotels, a park, the police station, and of course the obligatory mountain chocolate shop, all located along roads meant for cars in two directions but only large enough for one.
On the lookout for a place to get a sandwich, we spotted a quaint little place, the Edelweiss Hotel, promising tea, coffee and snacks. Had this been Georgia in the southern US, it would have been something straight out of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. We parked the car nearby and walked toward the Edelweiss. As we approached we could see that they rolled out the red carpet for us. It actually was a neutral beige colour, and strictly speaking, it wasn’t for us. They were in the midst of renovating the hotel, and were cutting the carpet into room-sized pieces in the street. One of the installers then flipped the carpet pieces over one at a time, and applied the glue. The other installer grabbed the section and disappeared into the hotel to complete another room.
We were then greeted by the owner, George Papas, born and raised in Cyprus. He asked us to excuse the work that was going on, and yes, he would be happy to serve us some tuna sandwiches. George told us some of his history. He had lived in England for 16 years, then upon returning to Cyprus found the hotel. He wasn’t actually looking to buy a hotel, he just fell in love with the area and never left. Part of his English experience stays with him. He reads The Sun newspaper every day, mostly to keep up with his London football team, Arsenal.
George is very knowledgeable about the area, and told us stories about the old asbestos mines nearby. During the time when asbestos was found to be a health hazard, sealed barrels of asbestos were buried deep in the mines, sort of a “what goes around comes around” story. Now there is a flourishing garden covering the land where the mines were.
There were some watercolours in the reception area of the hotel, and I asked George where we could find some for ourselves. He directed us to the nearby village of Lania, where some galleries could be found. On our way out of Platres, before finding the galleries, we found The Chocolate Factory.
The Chocolate Factory featured freshly handmade chocolates – even sugar free – so of course we had to stop and buy a few pieces. Just three, really! It was a real treat for Steve to be able to get fresh handmade sugar-free chocolates. We savored the few pieces of chocolate as we continued toward Lania.
As the turnoff to Lania went sailing by the left-hand window of our car, we decided that we would visit Lania on another day. Fortunately, there was another opportunity to turn off, and we did. One of the galleries that caught our attention was owned by the artist Pat Thompson and his wife Niki. As we walked into their gallery, which was a room attached to their house, Niki started telling us stories about each of the pictures that her husband painted. We bought an original that he had just finished the day before, as well as some other prints of his work. She continued to tell us that she is originally from Famagusta, now on the Turkish side of Cyprus. They were forced out of their house in 1973 and have not been able to go back since.
We heard some amazing stories and met some very interesting people. All because we turned down the road leading to the Edelweiss Hotel. And the tuna sandwiches and iced coffees hit the spot.